Has this ever happened to you?
You come across a position advertised on CNRG, Craigslist, Idealist, Mac’s List or any other nonprofit jobs board that interests you. You spend time on the organization’s website investigating its programs and mission, learning everything you can about it. You decide that it is an excellent fit for your passions and skill set. You spend hours crafting your resume to fit the job description and writing a cover letter to express your interest and explain why you would be a perfect fit for the position and the organization, and then you send the application materials to the designated email address. You wait and wait and wait, but you never receive a response acknowledging your application, an invitation to interview, nor even a “flush” letter.
A few months later, you start getting emails or envelopes in your mailbox from the organization. You open the email or mailing from the organization, hoping for an invitation to meet, or at least expecting a polite rejection letter saying that the organization had many great applicants, and while you had stellar skills and experience, they chose to interview and hire someone else. Instead, you find a request for financial support for the organization.
Surprised? Yes. Pleasantly surprised? No.
I have heard complaints about such issues from many jobseekers I have met at CNRG networking events and group conversations I have been involved with on Linked In. When people make the effort to apply for a position with an organization, they deserve to be acknowledged in a timely manner, not ignored. I understand that HR departments get dozens, scores, or even hundreds of applications for each job opening, but that does not excuse them from treating their applicants disrespectfully.
I have seen reports that, in the business sector, when companies have done a poor job of acknowledging and communicating with applicants, they lose the loyalty and business of those affected. Nonprofit organizations are no different. People will not be inclined to give to an organization if they feel they have been treated poorly and ignored.
When you are getting contact information from your Human Resources Director for your year end appeal, make sure that they have contacted applicants before you send out that request. Otherwise, it is likely that the recipient of the letter you are sending will ignore your appeal, just like your HR department ignored their effort and application, and the postage and envelope will be wasted.